“Gregory throw out a gunshot a my feet y’know bro…”
Ragga pioneer CLEMENT IRIE reveals the reason for his migration to the US and his long hiatus from the music scene.
When you hear tunes like ‘Night Nurse’, ‘Stranger in your Town’ and ‘Willow Tree’ even if you have not met Reggae Legend Gregory Isaacs, your first impression of the man is likely to be one of a cool calm sentimental lover/Rastaman. But if the words of Ragga icon Clement Irie are anything to go by, the man could be as vicious as he’s cool.
In an exclusive interview with Jahbeloved on Saharafm Radio, Clement Irie revealed that his long hiatus from the music scene was not as a result of the slackness that took over the genre as is being suggested but because Gregory Isaacs threatened him and actually shot at him. “Gregory throw out a gunshot a my feet y’know bro…” he said.
Clement Irie, known is real life as Clement Barnes said after releasing his tune ‘Leave the drugs alone’ (Kolo kolo) the became the target of the ‘Cool Ruler’ who assumed he was addressing him personally with the song. Apologising to his fans for taking a French leave, Clement went on to explain that sometime in 1993 he was confronted by Gregory concerning his release of the disputed song and in the ensuing altercation, he (Gregory) pulled out a gun and shot at his feet.
On another occasion, he said Dancehall celebrity Tiger also threw a bottle at his head for practically the same reason. According to Clement, he released a tune called ‘DJs in my country’ in which he mentioned Tiger’s name and made reference to his use of crack. The song was some kind of a ‘diss’ song in which the versatile Clement made fun of some of the biggest names in the Dancehall scene at the time. Even though in ‘Kolo kolo’ he did not specifically mention Gregory Isaacs’ name, in ‘DJ in my country’ he actually made mention of Tiger and not only inferred to his drug use but also went ahead to poke fun at his musical style. He sings:
…Tiger is a man wey [who] call himself the Jack
But one thing with Tiger him smoke too much crack
When the drugs hit him you shoulda hear him sing…
This must have really enraged Tiger and prompted the melee. Following the release of the song, the two artists were billed to perform on the same show. After doing his set Clement was walking off the stage when an irate Tiger grabbed a beer bottle and threw it at his head.
At this point, he decided enough was enough and took a bow from the Jamaican music scene. He said, instead of perpetrating the animosity that was likely to end up in someone dead and others in jail, he decided to make the supreme sacrifice and leave his beloved Jamaica. He migrated to the US where he adopted the Rastafari lifestyle.
After many years, Clement Irie is back on the scene. He is currently producing his own album and promises to make up to his fans for what they have missed all these years. The album features hit tracks like ‘Gone Up’ and ‘Come with me’.
CLEMENT IRIE spoke with Jahbeloved on Saharafm Radio in New York on 30 April, 2013.